Far be it from me to criticize, but I have to be honest & admit that I don't give a rat's ass. I'm so glad that Congress decided to devote precious time and money to such an issue. I mean, it's not like we've got other major issues going on that Congress should sit up and pay attention to.
It's not as if military doctors have been regularly diagnosing sufferers of PTSD with pre-existing mental conditions, thereby denying them needed medical benefits, or anything.
I'm no great fan of the San Antonio Current since my return to the city. George Bush drove them all insane too. They used to be a fairly good source of nonmainstream news, and provide a variety of viewpoints, but somewhere along the line they fell off the liberal deep end & now spend most of their time trying to out-Left themselves.
Occasionally, though, they hit it out of the ballpark.
Vietnam vets like Placido Salazar say they are already seeing the bureaucratic failures and broken promises that portend unnecessary suffering for this generation of veterans. A string of recent federal reports, likely to make the recruiter’s job a bit trickier, spell out the challenge facing returning soldiers.
For starters, there is the epidemic of homelessness — more than one in four living on the street is former military.
An exploding suicide rate: a 26-year high of 120 self-inflicted veteran deaths per week.
On top of it all are the horrendous tales of wounded veterans forced to pay back part or all of their $10,000 sign-on bonuses when they are physically unable to finish their tours of duty.
Even more disturbing are the increasing reports that the military may be intentionally misdiagnosing wounded veterans with PTSD and head traumas and discharging them with “pre-existing” mental disorders — diagnoses that limit their access to military health care.
Now, being screwed over by the military in general & by military healthcare in general isn't exactly news to anyone involved with the military. I knew about it in the abstract growing up the daughter of Army veterans. I learned about it first-hand as the wife of a sailor.
Money is always a particular Catch-22 with the military. As part of being processed out for being fat, my husband was informed he'd have to pay back a pro-rated portion of his reenlistment bonus. He's also found out that if he gets the weight off & reenlists, he'll most likely have to pay back his severance pay. It's a minor thing, of course, one I mention because of the article's mention of having to pay back sign-on bonuses when you can't complete your enlistment due to injury.
It's a royal clusterfuck in many ways. My experience has been that it's considered basically a minor annoyance by most of the guys who served. When I first got to Connnecticut after getting married I met Larry Barksdale, who'd been my hubby's roommate for a while & was then aboard the USS Miami. Larry kept a list of reasons not to reenlist (Larry also famously said "Sometimes I get nostalgic for my days in the Army. Then I beat my head against the wall until it goes away"). We lost contact with him when we went to Virginia, but used to have arguments about whether or not he'd get out of the Navy.
When we met up with him again in Honolulu, he was a Chief Petty Officer.
But that's really beside the point. The point is: the Army is screwing people over again, and Congress and the Media are shitting themselves because a bunch of men with a profession really of no national import are shooting up.
My father-in-law, who was in Vietnam for a while, was a few years ago moved to 100% disability simply because he was in a region where Agent Orange was used. Apparently this is the VA's current pet. Mind you, there is absolutely no evidence that the man was exposed to AO at all, or even that it was used in the area where he was during the time he was there. Nope, just the fact that they used it in Vietnam & he was in Vietnam is enough.
Vietnam was 30 - 40 years ago. Are we going to have to wait that long for help for OIF vets? And when it comes, is it going to be a shotgun approach like the response to Agent Orange exposure?
And by then, will it be too late? Reread this point, y'all: "An exploding suicide rate: a 26-year high of 120 self-inflicted veteran deaths per week." That has been reported in national media; they never miss an opportunity to paint military service as a horrible thing. But that's really not the point. The point is that the help is there, but a lot of men and women who need it aren't getting it for what basically amounts to beauracratic nonsense.
And that's pretty pathetic.